How Cookies and Milk Can Buy You a Customer For Life.
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ~ Voltaire
My favourite hotel chain when I travel for business or pleasure to the United States of America is Kimpton Hotels. Why? Because each and every time I go, whether it be Chicago, San Diego or New York, they made me feel appreciated as a customer. A couple of years ago, I took my family on a trip to Manhattan and we stayed at a Kimpton property called Ink 48. My wife and I had been to NYC many times prior but it was my young daughter’s first time and she was quite excited to see the “big city”. Upon check in, the front staff made small talk with her asking how old she was, what she wanted to see and what snacks she liked to eat. I smiled at the exchange and thought how nice they were to make her feel so welcome. At this point I was already planning to give a positive review but it got better. When we went upstairs and started unpacking, staff knocked on our door announcing, “Room service!” I politely told them there must be a mistake as we had not placed an order and the young man replied, “I’m sorry but it is not for you Mr. Dioso. It is for the young miss here.” They had brought up milk in a champagne bucket and cookies on a silver tray. I was blown away and that 5 star rating would be a 6 if the site would allow me.
As managers and business owners, several lessons stood out from me from this great customer service experience:
Hire great staff and treat them well. You want your customers and clients to be looked after? Hire staff that believe in providing customer service and treat them as well as your customers. Give them fair pay, respect and appreciate the work they do.
Give your staff the freedom to make customer service decisions on their own. I know no one called Kimpton head office to ask about my daughter’s cookies. It happened so quickly that the judgment was made on the spot. Empower your staff to make customer service decisions both rewards and compensation on their own. Trust that they’ll make the right call (see #1).
Make your customers feel special. From the little things like using someone’s name (seriously, it’s a beautiful thing to hear), to providing an umbrella for a rainy day to a special gift or surprise act, this will make their experience in dealing with you truly memorable.
Customer service needs to be consistent throughout. Train all your staff on all levels on how to interact and work with your customers. Make sure that their experience is the same whether dealing with a call rep or a sales manager. How frustrating is it when you have purchased a car and the sales staff was exceptional but the service department made you pull your hairs in anger?
Get feedback from your clients. Ask them what they like and where you can improve and then implement. Continuous improvement is key to staying ahead in customer service.
Providing good customers service is the key to retaining your customers and making them loyal fans.
Hope these tips help you in your business. If you have any great customer service stories or advice, please share in the comments below or send me a direct message.
Cookies and milk for everyone!
Darryl Dioso is Managing Partner at Resource Management Solutions Group (www.RMSGWorks.com) in Toronto, Canada. For close to 20 years, Darryl has been helping clients improve through designing, implementing and managing recruitment initiatives, operational improvements, and HR processes. He is passionate about sales, business, technology, sports, travel and most of all – his family. Connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/darryldioso and follow him on Twitter at @DarrylRMSG.